Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Literary Treat Tuesday: Russian Tea Cookies

The Jewel of St Petersburg
by Kate Furnival

Description: Russia, 1910. Young Valentina Ivanova charms St Petersburg's aristocracy with her classic Russian beauty and her talent as a pianist. She scandalizes society when she begins a romance with Jens Friis, a Danish engineer. He brings to her life a passion and an intimacy she has never known. Unbending in their opposition, her parents push her into a loveless engagement with a Russian count. Valentina struggles for independence and to protect her young sister from the tumult sweeping the city, as Russia is bound for rebellion. The Tsar, the Duma and the Bolsheviks are at each others throats. Valentina is forced to make a choice that changes her life for ever ...

Jen's Review


Russian Tea Cookies (Inspired by The Jewel of St Petersburg)

COOKIE:
1 c. butter
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 c. powdered sugar
2 tsp. milk
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour

ICING:
2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. milk
Food coloring

Cream butter with all ingredients except flour. Mix in flour. Shape into thumb prints and chill. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Fill thumb print with icing when cool.
 (The icing was too sweet for us so I modified by adding berries to the ones already completed and put jam in the ones that were not completed)

The Jewel of St Petersburg by Kate Furnival: Book Review

The Jewel of St Petersburg
by Kate Furnival
Penguin
ISBN: 978-0-425-23423-5




Description: Russia, 1910. Young Valentina Ivanova charms St Petersburg's aristocracy with her classic Russian beauty and her talent as a pianist. She scandalizes society when she begins a romance with Jens Friis, a Danish engineer. He brings to her life a passion and an intimacy she has never known. Unbending in their opposition, her parents push her into a loveless engagement with a Russian count. Valentina struggles for independence and to protect her young sister from the tumult sweeping the city, as Russia is bound for rebellion. The Tsar, the Duma and the Bolsheviks are at each others throats. Valentina is forced to make a choice that changes her life for ever ...


The Good Stuff
  • Exciting opening chapter, grabs your attention and makes you want to keep reading
  • Descriptions of the scenery are breathtakingly written, you feel you could reach out and touch the landscape
  • Epic story up there with Gone with the Wind, The Thorn Birds, etc. If this isn't made into a movie I will be totally surprised
  • Couldn't put the book down and now I am dying to get my hands on a copy of The Russian Concubine
  • Realistic characters dealing with horrendous choices and struggling in a changing world
  • Author really lets you see both sides of the revolution with very little sympathy or judgment for either side

The Not so Good Stuff
  • A little dry in spots, but not overly so
  • After exciting first 2 chapters, it dies a little and takes a little while to get going again. Don't give up though, it really does grab you again
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"It was something by Chopin, one of his least favorite composers, always so plaintive, so full of despair, whining in your ear like a cat in heat."

"The truth of what a person believed and the truth of what they said were two different things.  There was no hard-and fast line to draw under it because it shifted between shadows and sunlight."

"What kind of justice was that? What kind of equality, the weak devoured by the strong?"


What I Learned
  • A lot about Russian history
  • About both sides of revolution
  • War is hell and no one ever wins -- well I already knew that -- why the hell can't anyone learn from history
Who should/shouldn't read
  • Lovers of historical fiction, especially early 1900 Russian history will enjoy
  • Lovers of epic emotionally rich stories will also love
  • Trying to think of who wouldn't like this kind of story, probably those who need non stop action might be disappointed 
Jake and I made Russian Tea Cookies to celebrate this book, will post the pictures later today
    4.5 Deweys


    I received this from Penguin in return for an honest review

    Monday, August 30, 2010

    In My Mailbox


    For Review

    The Adventures of Ook & Gluk & Bobby the Brave from Scholastic

    Mockingjay from Scholastic
    Won

    Nothing : (

    Misc.

    Signed by Kathy Reichs for me
    Signed for SWWR 2011


    Karen Joyce mailed to me (ALA doesn't mail to Canadian Address')


    People comment all the time how fun my office is at work, so here are a couple of picks -- Yes I know I am 40

    Serenity, Casino Royale & Dr No Posters

    Various Toys
    Various Action Figures
    Shushing Librarian
    Giles, Buffy and Spike
    Sawyer & Various Geek Action Figures
    The Golden Compass & ALA Nathan Fillion Poster (YUMMY)
    Robert Munsch & Melanie Watt Posters

    Mom and Me Monday's: Ook and Gluk and Bobby The Brave

    The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future
    by George Beard and Harold Hutchins (Dav Pilkey)
    Scholastic
    ISBN: 978-0-545-17530-2
    Suggested Ages: 7 +
    http://www.pilkey.com/

    Description: In this all-new graphic novel, George Beard and Harold Hutchins present the sensational saga of two silly caveboys named Ook and Gluk. Ook and Gluk have a pretty awesome life growing up together in Caveland, Ohio, in 500,001 BC - even though they're always getting in trouble with their nasty leader, Big Chief Goppernopper. But Ook and Gluk's idyllic life takes a turn for the terrible when an evil corporation from the future invades their quiet, prehistoric town. When Ook, Gluk, and their little dinosaur pal, Lily, are pulled through a time portal to the year 2222 AD, they discover that the world of the future is even worse than the devastated one they came from. Fortunately, they find a friend in Master Wong, a martial arts instructor who trains them in the ways of kung fu, so that they may one day return home and make things right again. And, like the other Captain Underpants books, The Adventures of Ook and Gluk, Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future features the world's cheesiest animation technology, "Flip-O-Rama," in every chapter.

    Jake's Review: Mom,  have you been holding out on me? Why is this book in your office and why haven't you given it to me yet -- I DO get to read this right?  I'll watch Jesse tonight if you let me read this on the bus ride home (note from Mom: Damn straight you will -- god I love this bribery stuff)

    Later on Bus: Mom look at this, Mom read this it is HILARIOUS -- mom come on stop reading that stupid book about vampires and werewolves!   (Note from Mom: He continuously laughed throughout the whole book)  Mom I get to keep this book right?  It is so funny,that Dav Pilkey guy REALLY knows what us boys want to read (sexist kid - mom likes a good fart joke) Mom look at the naked bums on these kids (Yup I did stop reading the vampire book to see what he was talking about) This book is really awesome and I am going to buy a copy of it for all of my friends for their birthdays.

    Jake's Rating: 10/10

    Mom's Review:   All I can say is I love Dav Pilkey.  He really does understand what makes young kids (ok and Mom and Dad's too) laugh.  He makes great stories that keep kids reading and asking for more.  This book is no exception. Delightfully funny and I agree with Jake -- the naked bum part was really funny. Me luf ths buk. (See I can speak caveman)  For those who criticize the misspelled words and bad grammar -- get over it -- its funny stuff, perfect for reluctant readers and it will not affect their own abilities with proper spelling and grammar.

    Mom's Rating:  10/10


    Bobby the Brave (Sometimes)
    by Lisa Yess
    Illustrated by Dan Santat
    Scholastic
    ISBN: 978-0-545-05594-9
    Suggested Ages: 7 - 10 (Grades 2-4)





    Description: In his last adventure, Bobby Ellis-Chan got stuck to a stinky tree, had underwear attached to his back, and faced down a whole wolfpack of girls. What could be scarier or more humiliating than that?

    Oh, how about playing sports with his football-hero dad ...

    a cat with 27 toes ...

    an asthma attack in public ...

    dancing on stage in the school musical ...

    And the list goes on! Bobby will have to overcome his fears if he's going to come out on top

    Jake's Review: Mom this book is a lot better than I thought, I am glad you MADE me read it.  Bobby and I are a lot alike. Some of the stuff is really funny in this book, like when his sister dresses up as a "Real Girl" instead of in her Princess Becky costume.  I didn't like the character of Chess who is just not really nice. I think Ben would like to read it, but there wouldn't be enough action for Brian and Nathanial.  There are way too many big words and I didn't like to have to keep asking you what they meant.  I want to read more books about Bobby and maybe we both can get more brave. I forgot to ask you, you sure this wasn't written by a boy?

    Jake's Rating:  8/10

    Mom's Review: This is our second copy of Bobby the Brave as Jesse decided to puke all over the 1st copy we received -- It seems the boy gets sick while looking at words in the car. Jeff says it was because he was trying to express the fact that he DOES NOT like to read, thank you very much.
    A Beautifully written book with enough humor to keep the older boys interested.  Author has a keen eye for family relationships and all of the weirdness families can have. My son and Bobby have A LOT in common and I think it did him a lot of good to read about someone like him.  It also helped me understand Jake a lot better and we talked a lot after reading this. I loved the fact that his Dad is a Stay at home Dad, which is something you don't see very often in books. The situations and how kids handle them throughout the book are very realistic and appropriately handled. I'm very impressed. I think this would be a MUST for every school library. 

    Mom's Rating: 8/10

    We received these books from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review: and yes Jake thinks I'm the best mom EVER this week because of it!

    Saturday, August 28, 2010

    When Blood Calls by J,K. Beck: Book Review

    Don't bother reading my review just go buy the damn thing o.k..

    I was a little worried about reading and reviewing this one, especially since I had just finished Mockingjay -- but thank goodness J.K. Beck (Julie Kenner) does not disappoint -- phew -- I'm also always nervous about reading (and reviewing) books from people I just plain adore -- just in case the story sucks and I have to say that since I'm really not good at lying -- well except to my husband "No I DO NOT think Ryan Reynolds is hotter than you"  Anyways I am babbling as always, here is the review

    When Blood Calls
    by J.K. Beck
    Bantam Books (Random House)
    ISBN: 978-0-440-24577-3
    Release Date: September 21, 2010 (Nah nah, I got mine EARLY - it's signed too R U jealous)

    Description: Sara Constantine is one of the countrys most tenacious prosecuting attorneysand shes just secured a well-earned promotion. At first shes thrilled. Then she finds out her new job involves prosecuting vampires and werewolves. And nothing prepares Sara for the shock she receives when she meets the first defendant shell be trying to put away: Lucius Dragos, the sexy stranger with whom she recently shared an explosive night of ecstasy.

    When Lucius Dragos kisses the beautiful woman sitting next to him at the bar, hes only hoping to blend into the crowd and avoid the perceptive gaze of the man hes followingand planning to kill. But what starts as a simple kiss to secure his cover ignites into a fierce hunger that leads to an all-consuming passion. Charged with murder, Luke knows Sara will do whatever it takes to see him locked awayunless he can convince her that hes not the monster she thinks he is. And that might mean making the greatest sacrifice a vampire can make

    The Good Stuff
    • Sara is an intelligent lawyer but still romantic and has an incredible sense of humor
    • LOVED some of the secondary characters such as Doyle and Tucker and would like to learn more about them, especially about the back story between Doyle and Lucius
    • Outstanding opening chapter
    • It's geeky I know but I loved that one of the characters was named Porter (as that is my maiden name) I know silly, but I cannot lie
    • Great relationship between Luke and Sara
    • Very naughty scenes
    • Loved her creativity with creating the underground Shadow world and what Vampires are -- nicely done
    • Well done how Sara gets introduced to the paranormal world
    • Storyline grabs your attention and doesn't let you go and you end up staying up till 2:00 am to finish (Hmm might have to put that point in the "Not so Good Stuff" section)
    • Lots of surprises that you don't see coming and characters are not predictable 
    • Really looking forward to the next 2 books in the series 
    The Not so Good Stuff
    • Didn't like the descriptions of the kids being killed (I know it was very mild compared to some, but I'm sensitive that way)
    • Would have liked some more humor -- but probably wouldn't have worked for the story -- but I like the way Kenner writes humor
    Favorite Quotes/Passages

    "No, Ma'am." Tucker said. "We at Homeland Security do not have a sense of humor of which we're aware."


    "Ah, I understand your confusion. Best not to get your facts from late-night television."

    "That man was a son of a Bitch"
    "So are you, but you don't see me pulling out a stake."



    What I Learned
    • Maybe being a Lawyer isn't that bad
    • Vampires are sexy -- never mind already knew that
    Who should/shouldn't read
    • Natasha won't like, but I still love her anyway
    • Anyone who likes paranormal fiction, urban fantasy or even those who just enjoy a good story
    • Fans of Law and Order style fiction will also enjoy, even if they are not paranormal fans
    • Fans of Jeaniene Frost, Marta Acosta and Jennifer Estep will also enjoy

    4.5/5 Dewey's

    Hello, why are you still reading this -- go and buy the book!

    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    Johnson's Natural Baby Lotion: Review

    Mom Central Canada sent me the following product for an HONEST Review


    Johnson's Natural Baby Product Line


    Description: The JOHNSONS NATURAL product line is the only line of baby skin products that combines 98% naturally derived ingredients with 100 years of baby care expertise. Every ingredient used in our JOHNSONS NATURAL line of products meets or exceeds the guidelines set forth by the Natural Products Association.* And of course, every JOHNSONS NATURAL cleanser contains our gentle NO MORE TEARS formula.


    JOHNSONS NATURAL Baby Lotion 
    JOHNSONS NATURAL HEAD-TO-TOE Foaming Baby Wash 
    JOHNSONS NATURAL Baby Shampoo


    The Good Stuff (For the Baby Lotion)
    • Reasonable Price $5.99 (Saw it on sale at Fortino's for 2 for $10)
    • Nice pleasant natural scent
    • Makes skin nice and soft
    • Doesn't irritate any of our skins
    • Natural Ingredients
    • They also have a baby wash and shampoo
    • It's Johnson and Johnson's  and you know what that means "No More Tears"
    The Bad Stuff
    • Takes a while to rub in and my littlest one DOES NOT like to stay still
    Jen's Rating: 8/10

    Wednesday, August 25, 2010

    A+D Diaper Rash Ointment and Cream: Review (Plus Contest for Coupons)

    Hey Guys

    I signed up with Mom Central Canada a couple months ago and got a chance to review various products.  I love doing these sorts of things because I get to try out new stuff, give my honest opinion (since it isn't appreciated by my hubby and kids) on stuff and in many cases give companies some good honest constructive criticism on improving their products.  I do not get paid in any way (Damn, if I could just figure a way to get paid for my opinions) and I am brutally honest about what I think.  I think it is extremely important to be honest about what you think about these things, because if I sugar coat something and you buy it based on my review -- well that is just not nice -- and you know us Canadians -- we have to be nice (LOL!)  Here is a review of the 1st of 3 items I received.


    A+D Diaper Rash Cream (Treatment) and A+D Diaper Rash Ointment (Preventative)
    http://www.aplusd.ca/en/




    The Good Stuff
    • Love the tube it comes in.  Prevents too much coming out and from making a huge mess. Also makes it more hygienic because you are not re-dipping your finger into anything
    • Paraben-free
    • Easy to apply and Easy to wipe off
    • The Treatment really cleared up Jesse's diaper rash quickly and his adorable bottom hasn't been getting rashes since I started using the ointment.
    • Price isn't bad - $8.99 at Shoppers (+ you get your Shoppers Optimum Points) and $6.99 at Fortino's

    The Bad Stuff
    • Jesse won't stay still while I put it on --- never mind, he won't stay still for ANY part of the diaper change
    • Have to carry 2 diaper creams in my bag -- Ok I don't have to, but I will

    Jen's Review - 8.5/10


    I have 4 coupons for $2 of their products to the 1st 4 people who make a comment -- Good for Canada only (Sorry my US and International pals)

    Mockingjay (Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins: Review (No SPOILERS)

    This is going to be a hard one to right because there is so much I want to say, but I don't want to give anything away.  Honestly, you can stop here right now if you want to -- Just go buy the book -- TRUST ME -- it is worth the price and more.

    Just in case you want more -- or are just bored -- here we go

    Mockingjay (Hunger Games #3)
    by Suzanne Collins
    Scholastic
    ISBN: 978-0-439-02351-1
    Suggested Ages: 12+ (Mostly because of violence) See note in Who Should/Shouldn't Read
    http://www.scholastic.com/thehungergames/

    Description: Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that shes made it out of the bloody arena alive, shes still not ...more Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that shes made it out of the bloody arena alive, shes still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And whats worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katnisss family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collinss groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year

    The Good Stuff
    • All of it - don't bother reading anymore, I cannot do this book justice
    • Damn I wish I was a writer so I could explain how wonderful this book (not to mention the rest of the series) was
    • A wonderful written emotional roller-coaster of a story that hooks you in from the first sentence right to the closing paragraph.  You will not want to put the book down -- I'm warning you don't start reading if you have to put it down at some point
    • Richly drawn characters that you grow to love or hate. They will feel like family to you 
    • Your heart will be ripped out, stomped on, but you will keep on reading because you love it so much
    • Wonderful character development
    • Incredibly Satisfying ending -- won't say more than that
    • Brilliant and powerful written commentary on the power of corruption and the atrocities committed by those in power and during times of war
    • The relationships between characters are so heartbreakingly honest and real
    • A story that will last through the ages, it will be on most peoples favorites list
    The Not so Good Stuff
    • Once I started I didn't want to stop reading and the damn kids wanted me to feed them, play with them and get them ready for bed -- and BTW I did -- but as soon as they were in bed I opened up the book again and didn't stop till it was done -- 1:00 am - now I need an XL frickin Tim Horton's coffee just to make it till lunch
    • It's the end of the Trilogy : ( and I have grown to love all of these characters
    Favorite Quotes/Passages
    "But I don't know what to tell him about the aftermath of killing a person. About how they never leave you."

    "Frankly, our ancestors don't seem much to brag about. I mean, look at the state they left us in, with the wars and the broken planet. Clearly, they didn't care about what would happen to the people who came after them."

    "I hiss before he gets a chance, which seems to annoy him a little, since he considers hissing his own personal sound of contempt.  In retaliation, he gives a helpless kitten mew that brings my sister immediately to his defense."

    "We're fickle, stupid things with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction."



    What I Learned
    • NO ONE ever wins in war 
    • That I really want to read more by Suzanne Collins
    Who should/shouldn't read
    • Pretty much would recommend this to anyone except those without a heart or more sensitive younger readers.  
    • More sensitive younger readers (or pretty much any sensitive reader) will have a hard time with,  the at times,  brutal violence.  I still think they should read it but maybe have them talk it over with their parents afterwards.  A wonderful book to start conversations about violence, the government, reality tv and much more
    • This is a MUST book for EVERY library
    10/5 Dewey's - Trust me just go buy the damn book, you know you want to!

    I received this book from the wonderful Nikole at Scholastic in return for an honest review

    Minor spoiler below - highlight if want to find out about Buttercup





    Minor Spoiler for those like me who hate when animals are killed -- Buttercup lives!




    RIrR

    NEW Winner of JK Beck's When Blood Calls

    I never heard from the previous winner so I had to repick -- The new winner is

    mischivus101-warrior who said

    I haven't read any JK Beck yet and I'm kinda hoping it would get rectified soon :)

    Thank you for the chance to win when Blood Calls!

    I am emailing you know and you have 48 hrs to respond or I will repick : )

    Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    Another CSN Opportunity

    Got an email from CSN stating that since I was a preferred blogger, they were going to give me another opportunity to either giveaway or use a promotional code. For those unfamiliar with CSN, they are an amazing online shopping site that offer a wonderful selection of products from a modern chair  such as this one



    to totally crazy products like your very own life size Professor Snape Cardboard Stand-Up (Yup that one is for you Amanda)


    Since I am in desperate need of a more professional type of backpack, I am going to have to be selfish this time and keep the code for myself.  However, if I do get the opportunity again, I PROMISE to let you guys get something instead.

    Haven't decided which one, but I like both of these



    I will post more about the new backpack and my experience when I receive the item

    Literary Tasty Treat Tuesday


    This week we made Wild Blueberry Foole in celebration of a wonderful book (To be reviewed later) called The Gentleman Poet

    The Recipe in the book is for Gooseberry Foole, but we couldn't find any Gooseberries ANYWHERE in Bolton.   I am including the Recipe for Gooseberry Foole from the book and for the Wild Blueberry Foole that we made

    The Gentleman Poet: A novel of love, danger, and Shakespeare's The Tempest
    by Kathryn Johnson
    Avon (HarperCollins)

    Description: Elizabeth Persons blinding headache while on board the Sea Venture is an ominous sign, one she knows well as a warning of danger. The young servant girl is one of 150 passengers on the ill-fated ship, her worst fears are soon realized as they are tossed mercilessly in a hurricane on the final leg of their journey to the Americas. As the storm calms, the passengers can hardly believe they have survived, and that the Bermudas, rumored home to evil spirits and dangerous natives, may be their only chance of salvation.

    Despairing of rescue, Elizabeth and the others struggle to make the uninhabited island their home for nine long months while they build a new ship to complete their voyage to Jamestown, Virginia. As the months pass, friendships form, crew members revolt and love blossoms between Elizabeth and the ships young cook. Elizabeth forms a fast bond with the ships historian, a man she comes to know as William Strachey. But Will is not the man he portrayshe is in fact William Shakespeareand they share a dangerous secret, a secret that could cost them their lives if they ever return to Protestant England.

    After many months, their new ship is ready to sail and the surviving company finally lands in Jamestown, only to find that life there is hard and dangerous. When Elizabeths headaches return, she despairs of a threat to her young husband and their child, due later that year. Her world falls apart, but it is her good friend Will who gives her a chance for a new and independent life, by offering her the chance to return with him to live with his family in Stratford on Avon where they both must confront their past, face the risk of possible persecution, and start their lives again

    To Make a Gooseberry Foole (to cheer the soul)
    The Gentleman Poet (Pg 245 in my copy - may differ when published)

    Pricke two good handfuls of greene Gooseberries. Scalde these until soft then poure of water. Mash with forke to make small and sweeten with Rose water and sugar (or honey, if there bee none). To a quart of Creame add Mace and set this over fire to boyle then take out the Mace and poure Creame atop Gooseberries. stirring all about. Stand till cool.  Eate

    Wild Blueberry Foole

    Ingredients

            * 1 pint (2 cups) fresh blueberries (We used wild)
            * 2 tablespoons water
            * 1/2 cup sugar
            * 1 pint whipping cream
            * 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (Use a good quality one as this makes a HUGE difference in taste)

    Instructions
    1. Wash the blueberries and remove any over- or underripe ones (a good job for kids).
    2. Place the berries in a medium saucepan and stir in the water and sugar. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the berries are soft and have released their juices. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside to cool. (To speed the cooling, pour the mixture into a small bowl.)
    3. Meanwhile, pour the whipping cream into a medium mixing bowl and beat it with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Mix in the vanilla extract.
    4. Pour the cooled blueberry sauce over the whipped cream and gently fold the mixture until the blueberries and the cream are well combined. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, then spoon the dessert into serving dishes. Serves 6 to 8.
    Rating: 9/10 - Easy to make and very tasty

    Wild Blueberry Foole w/ modern presentation


    Wild Blueberry Foole in antique pottery    
    Jake gives it a 2 thumbs up

    Underway and Smart for Life Products: Review

    Mom Central Canada sent me the following items to review which are part of the Smart for Life Cookie Diet Program

    Four Bottles of UnderWAY Acai-Pomegranate
    Four Bottles of UnderWAY Grape
    1 Pack Thin Adventure Chocolate Mountain Cupcakes(4 muffins per pack)
    1 Pack Thin Adventure Carrot Sunshine Cupcakes (4 muffins per pack)
    1 Pack Smart for LIfe Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
    1 Pack Smart for LIfe Chocolate Chip Cookies
    1 Pack Thin Adventure Mommas Chicken Noodle Soup
    1 Pack Thin Adventure Vanilla Shake Bottles
    1 Pack Thin Adventure Chocolate Berry Cereal Cup
    1 Pack Smart for Life Smart Crunch Packs
    I tried this diet for almost 2 weeks and lost just over 2 pounds and that INCLUDED the cheating I did. There is no way in HELL I am going to give up Coffee with REAL milk and Wine -- I have 2 young children -- I need something

    The Good Stuff
    • I was full after each serving of each product, except the Shake which I couldn't consume more than 1 sip of that nasty sludge.  This surprised me because the servings of each product looked so small
    • It taught me to eat smaller portions and more frequently which is really working for my upset tummy problems
    • It got me out of eating so much takeout stuff and chocolate.
    • A good TEMPORARY start to losing weight and changing your eating habits
    • The Thin Adventure Chocolate Berry Cereal Cup is so good I would love to incorporate it into my regular eating routine
    • I also really enjoyed the Thin Adventure Mommas Chicken Noodle Soup. It was very filling, tasty, easy to make and NO aftertaste
    • I lost 2 pounds and I don't feel bloated which is a constant problem for me.  It got me to watch how much and how often I eat.
    • Make sure you warm up the cookie/cupcake products, it really does improve the taste and you don't notice the nutmeg/cinnamon taste as much
    • The drink helped me go longer in between meals and helped when I was craving something sweet in the afternoon
    The Bad Stuff
    • The aftertaste of cinnamon/nutmeg in most of the products is really off putting
    • WOW the stuff is pricey (I know not compared to other programs), I love the soups and cereal's and would love to incorporate them into my regular diet, but I have to be honest, that really isn't in the budget.
    • Eventhough I wasn't hungry I craved the texture and tastes of real food
    • I don't like that you cannot have fruit
    • I had to drink the Underway drink over the course of the day because if I had more than 1/2 cup at a time, I got nautious
    • I worry that whatever the appetite suppressant is, that it isn't good for you
    • Their website sucks! It is way too busy and hard to find the information you want.  They should give you a nice sample 7 day diet for you to follow
    Tasting Notes

    UnderWAY Acai-Pomegranate - Not bad, a little bit of an after taste

    UnderWAY Grape - Really liked the taste on this one

    Thin Adventure Chocolate Mountain Cupcakes - Pretty Good
    Thin Adventure Carrot Sunshine Cupcakes - Pretty Good
    Smart for LIfe Oatmeal Raisin Cookies - Not to my liking, too much of a nutmeg/cinnamon taste
    Smart for LIfe Chocolate Chip Cookies - Not to my liking, too much of a nutmeg/cinnamon taste
    Thin Adventure Mommas Chicken Noodle Soup - LOVED, LOVED, LOVED!!!
    Thin Adventure Vanilla Shake Bottles - This is the nastiest tasting crap I have ever had!!!!
    Thin Adventure Chocolate Berry Cereal Cup - I LOVED this and am going to buy more!
    Smart for Life Smart Crunch Packs - Not to my liking, too much of a nutmeg/cinnamon taste
    Jen's Rating: 6.5/10


    I also gave a day's worth of products to Natasha  and here are some  of her points

    Natasha's Musings
    1) I have concerns about the fact that I may not be meeting the correct caloric intake for good nutrition
    2) I have concerns about how many preservatives are in the items. Yes, they are 60% organic, but the fact that all the muffins, cookies, and bagels are all pre-baked, and all of the soups and drinks are pre packaged ready to go, make me concerned about how nutritionally good for me these are.
    3) From the couple of samples I tried, they tasted ok, but they were not something I would want to eat all the time.
    4) I was STARVING. I attempted to do one day. I tried the hunger suppressant drink in the AM, along with a muffin every 2 hours, and by 2pm I have a full blown headache from hunger.
    5) There are cheaper ways of doing this exact same thing. I found the prices for their products to be a bit ridiculous. Also, for your dinner meal, meat protein and veggies can get really expensive if you don't have your own garden.

    Monday, August 23, 2010

    Mom and Me Mondays: This is Silly by Gary Taxali

    This is Silly
    by Gary Taxali
    Scholastic Press
    ISBN: 978--439-71836-3
    Suggested Ages: 3+ (From publisher)

    Description: A very silly boy takes us on very silly adventure where we meet very silly characters who run in silly circles, fly in silly skies, and walk in the silliest parade ever! All in all, this is the silliest book you've ever seen and will be sure to leave the youngest children in silly gales of laughter as they, too, get silly

    Jake's Review: Very creative and I like the silly rhyme.  The pictures are sorta creepy and I don't think little babies like Jesse will like it. Some of the stuff was really funny, but I would like it better if the pictures were different.  Looks like some of those "OLD" books you have.  I really like the mirror at the end of the story and I think babies will like it too -- hopefully they will not drool over it though! I think old people like you guys would like it better than kids would. I don't like the Manic Monkey character he is mad looking and scary.

    Jake's Rating: 6/10


    Mom's Review:  Jesse loved looking at the inside of the front cover and he loved the mirror at the back but he wouldn't let me read the rest to him.  That is no big shock as he does not like to be read to (I know, the horror and the shame).  He was fascinated by that inside cover though.  I can see why it is very colorful and busy.  I loved the rhymes and the silliness of it. But I have to be honest, some of the pictures creeped me out too.  Love the idea of it though -- nothing better than nonsense and silliness -- but I think the pictures are a little too sophisticated for the younger audience.

    Mom's Rating 6.5/10



    We received this from Scholastic in return for an honest review - Sorry Scholastic I wish we liked it more

    Sunday, August 22, 2010

    In My Mailbox

    Fantastic week for me. Very excited to be taking part in Elle Canada's 2011 Beauty Grand Prix.  I will blog more about my experiences with it and rate the items I get to try. Right now I have 12 products to try -- all nicely wrapped so that you cannot tell what they are.  On Monday I get a log book with directions for each product and than I have to rate my opinion on them. Should be tons of fun!

    This is last years ratings: http://www.ellecanada.com/Beauty/ELLE-Canada-s-2010-Beauty-Grand-Prix-Awards/s/3502/

    Here is what I got this week (Presented by Scaredy Squirrel)

    Won (And for Review from JK Beck)
    This is not the copy I won, but I forgot to take a picture of mine

















    For Review
    2011 Elle Canada Beauty Grand Prix Awards Products for Review

    Misc.

    For Going to Kathy Reichs signing   

    Adorable Otter key chain I got from Toronto Zoo

    Rose Sees Red by Cecil Castellucci; Book Review

    Rose Sees Red
    by Cecil Castellucci
    Scholastic Press
    ISBN: 978-0-545-06079-0
    Suggested Ages:   12 + (But I think it could be read by mature 10+)

    Description: Rose has given up. She's given up on friendship, on happiness, on life being anything other than black, black, black. Yrena wants out. She's a dancer ...more Rose has given up. She's given up on friendship, on happiness, on life being anything other than black, black, black. Yrena wants out. She's a dancer who doesn't want to dance, a prisoner in her own home, a resident of New York who never gets to see the city. To Rose, Yrena has always been the Russian girl who lives next door, seen through the window but never spoken to. At least not until Yrena crashes into Rose's room-and Rose's life-and sets in motion a night in New York City that none of them will ever forget. From YA superstar Cecil Castellucci, this is the story of cold hearts and cold wars warmed by simple human connection and the liberty of being young and free in the early hours of a new day

    The Good Stuff

    • Compelling, realistic and touching
    • Made me feel and remember what it was like to be that young and idealistic -- and that is a wonderful thing
    • Once I started reading it I didn't want to put it down, thank goodness it wasn't a super long read
    • Extremely well written, you really feel you know these people and understand them
    • Very realistic portrayal of YA's and their heightened emotions and being on the cusp of adulthood
    • Parents a little more realistically portrayed -- yup author doesn't make them complete morons
    • Full of Hope and understanding and the silliness of prejudice and war
    • Loved the camaraderie between the kids even-though they barely knew each other
    • Felt a real kinship with Rose 
    • Some lovely light humour
    The Not so Good Stuff
    • It was really difficult to tell at first what era this is set in, which frustrated me. The author did eventually get to it but at first I thought it was during the 50/60's, until the author starts mentioning music and than I clued it. 
    Favorite Quotes/Passages

    "I thought for you Russians, dancing was in your DNA" I thought for you Americans, every girl was a cheerleader in love with a football player." Sometimes it takes someone saying something stupid to make you realize that what you said was stupid."



    " I thought about that for a minute. It was comforting to know that you could always find something in common with someone else."


    "I will tell you a secret. I am hoping that because my breasts have grown so much-they are really quite big--that they will not take me back at the ballet school."

    What I Learned

    • Really sucks to be a Russian Teenager during the 80's
    • I still am not a fan of ballet, but I understand the passion of it a little more now
    • That I really really want to see New York
    Who should/shouldn't read
    • I think anyone would enjoy this.  The suggested reading age by the publisher is 12+ but I don't see much objectionable for a younger reader. Very little mention of sex and when it is hinted at, it is very minor. I think 10+ would be just fine -- ONLY MY OPINION!
    • A must addition to school and public libraries
    5/5 Dewey's 

    I received this from Scholastic in return for an honest review -- and thanks Scholastic,  reading this was much better than getting cash : )

    Winner of When Blood Calls

    Winner of When Blood Calls


    For some reason, I cannot get my chart and Random.org Results to look properly here, so you are just going to have to trust that this is fair -- Hey I'm Canadian you have to trust me -- oh yeah so is Conrad Black -- never mind trust me the results are fair

    The Winner is #15

    Ksunshine1977 who said

    congrats on the screenplay being written! i'm sure chris columbus will do a good job with it - i've always liked his work! i can't wait to read the new series! :)
    i am a gfc follower

    Off to email you now and you have until Tuesday at Midgnight to get back to me or I will pick someone else

    Thanks again for entering!

    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    White Cat (The Curse Workers #1) by Holly Black: Book Review

    White Cat (The Curse Workers #1)
    by Holly Black
    Simon and Schuster
    ISBN: 978-1-4169-6396-7
    Suggested Ages: 14 and Up

    Description: Cassel comes from a family of curse workers -- people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail -- he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.


    Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen. Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love -- or death -- and your dreams might be more real than your memories.

    The Good Stuff
    • Intriguing and unusual world the author has created. Sort of reminded me a little of the conflict between humans and mutants in the X-Men world
    • Fascinating main character Cassel (Great name too!)
    • The relationship between Cassel and his family is very realalistic
    • Outstanding Cover -- grabs my attention and made me want to read the book RIGHT AWAY!
    • Story grabs your attention from the start and doesn't let go
    • His mom is awesome and would have loved to read more about her
    • Interesting political overtones to some of the backstory, hopefully that develops more in the rest of the series
     The Not so Good Stuff
    • Cassel's family are almost without any redeeming qualities. The exception being his Mom and Grandfather
    • Would have liked more background information on Cassel's Dad and  more present day scenes between Lila and Cassel
    • Took a while to figure out what Curse workers are
    Favorite Quotes/Passages

    "I smile. Sure she can be scary and manipulative, but she loves me. Ok Mom."

    "The problem with forging an entire year of someone's life very quickly is that your fantasies creep in.  Maybe you meant to just get in the stuff that you needed, but that leaves a lot of space to fill. I filled the space with the relationship I wished we had."

    "Marks forget that whenever something's too good to be true, that's because it's a con"

    What I Learned
    • That I was very lucky to have the decent parents I did
    • I really, really miss having a Cat!  Damn you Jesse grow up faster so I can get one (Note to readers - Jesse is very --- ummm -- hands on with animals if you know what I mean)
    • Gloves are soooo not sexy
    Who should/shouldn't read

    • Anyone who likes the unusual and unique settings or  likes stories involving grifters, mobsters and
      a touch of the paranormal
    • Older teens will like it, may be a little too dark for the younger YA reader
    4/5 Dewey's

    I received this book from Simon and Schuster in return for an honest review

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    Various Summertime reads: Reviews

    Here are a few of the books that I have read over the last couple of months that might be of interest to you. I'm not going to do a formal review, as I read most of these just for pure escapism.  They are all perfect reads for the beach, cottage, bath, bus rides or just any plain time when your children are not around. They all get about a 3/5 rating.  Good light reading, but nothing spectacular

    The Journal of Mortifying Moments
    by Robyn Harding
    Ballantine Books

    Description: Kerry Spence is unfulfilled by her soulless career in advertising, disappointed by her dysfunctional relationship, and horrified by the ever-increasing size of her ass. Ever since her gorgeous, self-absorbed boyfriend Sam demoted her to late night hook-up status, she has fortified herself with prime-time TV and blissful binges on cream cheese frosting, awaiting an epiphany that will reveal her next move.


    Of course, everybody in her life is full of advice. Her free-spirited divorcee motherwhen not necking furiously with her much younger boyfriend sagely counsels her daughter to do whatever it takes to snag Sam back, since, quite frankly, he is the best she can do. Her friends ply her with fruity cocktails and dispense bits of Cosmo wisdom like Divide your age in half and add seventhats the youngest man you are allowed to date and Scotch tape can eliminate forehead wrinkles. And then there is Kerrys shrink, the calm, unflappable therapist who suggests she start a diary of past encounters with men that may be contributing to her negative and dysfunctional quasi-relationship. Or, as Kerry sees it, a journal of mortifying moments.

    Beginning with a kissing game gone bad in grade school, the journal jump-starts Kerrys stroll down memory lane of man troubles. But just as Kerry decides her poorly dressed therapist is as crazy as everybody else in her orbit, she begins to realize the journal may actually make some senseas she plumbs the depths of her most embarrassing experiences on a quest for personal awareness that will give her the strength to turn her life aroundand just maybe find love again.

    The Journal of Mortifying Moments is a hysterically funny glimpse into the quirky, slightly obsessive, and completely lovable mind of Kerry Spence. But somewhere amidst the laugh-out-loud hilarity of Kerrys exploits emerges the story of a woman who learns to stop trying to be someone shes not, and start loving the wonderful, quirky person she is, once and for all.
     (Expected much better, had potential)

    Ravished by a  Highlander
    by Paula Quinn
    Hachette Book Group Inc.

    Description: Davina Montgomery is no ordinary English lady. For her own protection, she's been locked away from society, her true identity the Crown's most closely guarded secret. Until a shocking betrayal--and a bold rescue--land her in the arms of a fierce Highlander, a powerful warrior whose searing gaze and tantalizing touch awaken her body and soul.


    As the firstborn son of a powerful Scottish laird, Robert MacGregor has no loyalty to the English throne, but he's not the kind of man to leave a woman in distress, even if she is English. He vows to deliver Davina to safety, unharmed and untouched. Yet one stolen kiss leaves them both smoldering with desire...and desperate for more. With Davina's secret threatening to destroy his clan, Rob must choose between everything he holds dear and the one woman he can't live without.
    Seduced by a Rogue (Really don't think the title matched the story!)
    by Amanda Scott
    Hachette Book Group Inc.

    Description: A fair-haired beauty at 19, Lady Mairi is heiress apparent to her father Lord Dunwythie's rich barony. He has carefully taught her how to manage their estates, but a feud between his clan and the Maxwell clan is brewing as the two families edge toward a clan war - their dispute over money owed. Mairi's father believes he owes nothing, and of course Mairi sides with him.


    When the impulsive and blue-eyed Rob Maxwell chances to meet Mairi in a barley field, they feel instant attraction, despite their families' antagonisms. Knowing he must put his clan first, Rob enacts a plan to force Dunwythie to pay his debt: Rob kidnaps Mairi, making the abduction appear the work of a stranger; then he and his sheriff-brother offer to help Dunwythis rescue his daughter IF, and only if, he will pay them the monies due. Yet after Rob captures Mairi's body, she captures his heart. When Dunwythie summons the aid of the most powerful clan in all Scotland (the Douglases), clan-tensions rise to a fever pitch. Love takes its own feverish course, as Mairi and Rob join forces to prevent a clash between hot-headed clans, and to protect their budding love
    (VERY WELL RESEARCHED!!!)
    Knights of Passion
    by Margaret Mallory
    Hachette Book Group Inc.

    Description: Renowned beauty Lady Linnet is torn between two desires: revenge on those who destroyed her family or marriage to her childhood sweetheart Sir James Rayburn. One fateful night, she makes a misguided choice: she sacrifices Jamie''s love for a chance at vengeance.

    Jamie Rayburn returns to England in search of a virtuous wife-only to find the lovely Linnet as bewitching as ever. Their reckless affair ignites anew, even hotter than before, although Jamie vows to never again trust her with his heart. Then just as Linnet begins to make amends, she''s tempted by one last opportunity to settle old scores. But a final retribution could cost her Jamie''s love - this time forever.
    (Lots of action and Romance - I actually give this one a 3.5)

    Mikisew Provincial Park - Camping 2010

    This is our 6th year Camping out for a week at Mikisew Provincial Park.  It is located 1 hour SOUTH of North Bay, Ontario, Canada. It is the perfect place for camping for famililes with small children.  We have a great time hanging out at the beach and splashing around in the warmish water, eating Pie Irons (Trust me if you have never had one -- you ARE missing out on heaven and a crapload of calories) feeding Ducks (but no Seagulls, since I am a bird racist) and Chipmunks, long bike rides through the beautiful countryside, fishing,  reading books in a hammock, and just plain relaxing (well not while Jesse was at the beach, that kid is INSANE, I cannot take my eyes off him)

    Here are some pictures from this year's adventure
    Jesse and Mom in Hammock

    Jake Teaching Jesse how to feed the Squirrels

    Daddy Fishing

    Eagle Lake Narrows Store (For all those things you forgot and IceCream)
    Thank god for DVD players on rainy days



    Jesse Feeding his 1st Chipmunk

    Feeding the Ducks

    Home Sweet Home

    Lance Nutstrong

    After we heard about bears


    Pure Bliss

    Water Fight
    Sports at the Beach
    Jake Fishing
    Me and the boys after LONG bike ride

    Super Strong Mommy

    Playing with Daddy

    What the Hell was that Rat looking Thing


    Jake and Lance Nutstrong

    View from Eagle Lake store

    All of our crap

    TEASE, hubby wouldn't let me even touch it!